Sunday 17 December 2017

Robert Brennan to be honoured by council

By Esther Hayden

Cllr Tony Dempsey.
Cllr Tony Dempsey.
Cllr George Lawlor.
Upper George Street
Left: the ballot box containing votes on the renaming of George Street (above) is opened by Pat Collins, returning officer, and Angela Laffan. Also in the picture are Breda O'Driscoll and Margaret Dunphy. See story bottom of opposite page.

1916 hero Robert Brennan will be honoured in Wexford but not by naming a street after him.

At last week's meeting of the Wexford Borough Municipal District district meeting district manager Angela Laffan said that the plebiscite votes had been counted and there were nine votes in favour of changing the name of George Street to Brennan Street after Robert Brennan and 42 votes against.

She said the total valid poll was 51 votes and the vote was defeated. She said the council is now considering 'alternative options to honour Robert Brennan' which she expected to have ready for the next meeting of the municipal district.

Cllr George Lawlor said 'nobody likes change and this is a very unequivocal vote. I think we really do need to honour Robert Brennan and look at a fitting and suitable memorial. To many of us his role in the establishment of the state was unknown and it is our duty to ensure that his name is remember with the dignity and respect it deserves.'

He was supported by Cllr Davy Hynes who sad that people get attached to street names and 'names become part of who they are'. He said he had been under the impression that George Street was named after King George but had been told it was named after St George.

However Cllr Tony Dempsey poured cold water on this idea saying that 'historically there is no doubt that it was named after King George'.

Cllr Hynes said the fact that the vote hadn't been carried was not a reflection on Robert Brennan as a person and said the council did need to recognise him.

Cllr Dempsey, who had proposed the motion calling for a plebiscite to change the name, said he was 'obviously disappointed' and said he would be putting forward suggestions on how Robert Brennan could be honoured.

Cllr Jim Moore said 'Robert Brennan is a very important historical figure and the process to this point does beg the question about when was the last time a plebiscite was won. This came from a motion here and we should look at the way we honour people and the amount of resources that had to be put into this.

'I think in the future we need to be a little more careful in the method we go about honouring a person. Yes we need to get the community involved but from an early stage. We all want to acknowledge people who have given service but this has been going on for a long time costing resources, time and finance and now we are back where we started.'

Cllr Dempsey said he had no problem looking at the process in which people are honoured but pointed out that the plebiscite had gotten people interested in Robert Brennan.

Quick to defend Cllr Dempsey and his right to bring a motion before the body Cllr Lawlor said when the motion had been proposed there had been 'no dissent' and said Cllr Moore should be 'backtracking'.

Again he was supported by Cllr Hynes who said 'I do think a councillor has the right to put down a motion. I'd hate to think that there would be a diktat on what we can put down as a motion.'

Cllr Lawlor said at the time the motion had been passed he was chair of the municipal district and 'had no opinion, one way or the other but said it was down to the people'.

Cllr Deirdre Wadding said that she didn't feel the plebiscite had failed. Instead she said 'it did what it was supposed to do and find out the will of the people. More things should happen with the consultation of the people.'

Mayor Ger Carthy said the general consensus was that Robert Brennan needed to be honoured and suggested establishing a sub-committee to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. The members agreed that the protocol committee should form the sub-committee.

Wexford People

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